SOAR now has available very low interest 100 percent accessible loans to grow food, market and sell that food to strengthen the local food economy in Kentucky.
Sandi Curd, Kentucky Promise Zone coordinator, said she has placed loans in the region, but would really like to get someone to apply for this loan in the Harlan County area.
“The SOAR Loan Fund is a great opportunity for farmers or someone interested in a new farming or agriculture venture to secure funding at a low interest rate,” said Harlan County Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension Agent Jeremy Williams. “If you are looking at expanding a farming operation or getting started, putting the start-up funds on a credit card would cause interest amounts to add up quickly. With 1 percent interest, this allows someone to borrow up to $7,500 and start or expand a good sized enterprise on virtually no interest. This is a great opportunity for someone that is interested in small farm or agriculture production. There is also no closing costs.”
According to Curd, this is a loan fund supported by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund. Partners in the project are Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation and Grow Appalachia.
“While we have especially favorable terms for growers, we need the investment repaid in order to sustain the program,” said Curd. “Your success will help us work with other growers to support their success. We recognize every project is different. As an example, for growers moving into commercial production, Grow Appalachia has developed a small production package. The package can include a high tunnel greenhouse, woven ground cover that is reusable, T-posts, a drip irrigation system, a Grillo walk-behind tractor, hand tools, wheel horse and a hydro-cool station for cold storage, as needed.
“KHIC will provide the installation and technical support for each family. The typical small production package loan may be smaller or larger depending on the options the farmer selects. Beyond the small production package, we will work with growers individually to customize the items needed to make the project successful.”
Curd said a key feature of the SOAR small production loan is the participation of Grow Appalachia. She said the organization will meet with participants where they live and address their specific goals and needs as gardeners and food producers.
“Grow Appalachia works with non-profit organizations in each of the counties so that there is always a local resource,” said Curd. “Each Grow Appalachia participant chooses from classes offered by their partner site throughout the year on topics such as garden planning, planting and maintenance, heart-healthy cooking and up-to-date food processing and preservation techniques. Grow Appalachia also has excellent contacts to help growers market their products.”
Curd added almost all food-related producers are eligible to participate in this program including fruit and vegetable growers, beekeepers, gardeners of herbs, markets who want to begin to grow their own product and many others.
Larry and Amy Jackson, brother and sister, are the third generation to supply fresh produce to Bell County and the surrounding communities and one of SOAR Small Production Loan Fund’s success stories. Their grandfather founded the company, Mike’s Produce, in 1960 with the business being passed from generation to generation. Larry took over the day-to-day operations of the company in 1996 and continues to manage the daily operations. Amy provides the accounting and office management for the company.
Starting as a small rural market, this company has grown into a regional supplier of fresh produce and eggs to local schools, community markets and restaurants within a 125-mile radius of Bell County. With the $7,500 loan from the SOAR Small Production Loan Fund they will receive, funds will be used by Mike’s Produce to purchase a used one-ton refrigerated box truck to expand the delivery of fresh produce to area consumers.
If you are interested in beginning or expanding a farming business, more information about applying for this 1 percent fixed rate loan with no closing costs, is available at www.soarfarmloans.org. You may also call Michael Hayes or Edgar Davis at 606-864-5175 or email at [email protected] or [email protected] You may also contact David Cooke at 859-985-3941 or by email at [email protected] or Jeremy Williams at 606-573-4464 or email at [email protected]
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or on Twitter @Nola_hde